Chapter 40 – The Final Hearing…Celebrate
Today is the day, no more worries or stress, just pure happiness and a whole day to celebrate the fact that finally we are going to be legally made the boy’s Dad and Daddy. We haven’t slept much last night, mainly due to excitement, as we have literally been waiting a whole eighteen months for this moment. I just know that the moment we enter that Court, I will be beaming with pride. The boy’s surname will be changed officially from today and the adoption order will be granted, meaning we will have full parental rights and apart from the ‘post adoption support’ provided by the council’s children services team, we won’t be having anymore house visits or looked after child reviews. We are obviously over the moon with this, knowing that we can now just get on with our lives but have to admit that we are quite sad that we will not have our regular catch ups with Gemma. After all, she is the whole reason we have the best boy in the world and in our hearts will be that very special friend who will never forget, as her support through this process has literally allowed all of our dreams to come true. Social workers sometimes do get a bad press, but we do not have a bad word to say about any of the social workers that we have dealt with throughout the process, you just have to remember that they have the child’s best interests at heart and that may be why sometimes they seem difficult. They aren’t being difficult, they are just looking out for the child in question and considering what is best for them and their future, which makes us even more proud to think that she matched him with us.
The plan of today is that us, along with our parents, Gemma and Dawn, will meet at the courts and finalise everything legally, but really today is all about celebration of the boy officially becoming a part of our family forever. We have heard that even the judge is excited to see us today, as they get to see first-hand the family that they have created and after all the sad parts that go with the adoption process, it must uplift them to know the child is going to be unconditionally loved. We have picked out a really smart outfit with a chequered shirt for the boy and we are both also going to be in chequered shirts, but different colours. It’s a little touch of our style at the moment and we know that when the boy looks back on these photos in years to come, he will no doubt be like ‘what did you make me wear’ as the fashion trends change so often. The boy has absolutely no clue what is happening today and he is probably wondering why we are all up so early on a work day and getting ready together, bless him he probably thinks we are all going to work with Rich this morning. As expected, we are working towards a very strict time schedule, as there is now way Rich would risk being late for anything, let alone a day as big as this. So for once I am leaving my ‘go with the flow, laid back attitude’ in bed, as I secretly also do not want to be late and would rather be there hours early waiting around.
I am really very excited today for our parents, as I know they have been feeling so anxious about the whole process and are relieved that today has finally arrived. Although the boy has been their grandchild from the moment the laid eyes on him, there is something extra special about being told that it’s now forever and that one percent of worry in your mind is completely lifted. My Mum must have said to me a hundred times since he moved in “they can’t take him away, can they, like he is our family” to which we would always respond honestly that it is highly unlikely but there was always that concern. We know for a fact that they have all been hiding feelings and their insecurities about it all from us, mainly to be supportive of us, which is exactly what they have been. On the plus side, the adoption of our boy has really brought our Mum’s closer together as they now have that really special connection, being our little boy. Rich, who is basically a younger version of his Dad answers his mobile and it’s his Dad, so immediately it was as if the special forces mission was being planned or to us normal people, the drive to the court. It’s so funny listening to them “we will all meet at this time, at this place and then travel together to make sure we all arrive on time”. There is absolutely no need to all arrive on mass, but it seems to give them some comfort and I do laugh to myself, as I can just imagine that the boy and Rich will be exactly the same when he is older. Rich gets off the phone and explains that his Dad, who is a florist in Covent Garden, has prepared two of the most insane bunches of flowers for Gemma and Dawn, which we think is his way of saying thank you for everything and for giving him such an amazing grandson, who yes already supports Chelsea and probably doesn’t have any choice as he is surrounded by them.
The boy has been up for a while, played with his building bricks for what seems like ages this morning, been fed and seems to be in a really happy mood, so fingers crossed he stays like this for the court. Of course, we have been videoing and taking photos all morning, as it’s a big day for us and we want to make sure we remember all of the emotions. The boy has been really laughing his head off with the bricks today, as he loves it when Rich pretends to act like he jumps when he knocks them over and watching them together this morning has made me feel so happy that we took the journey to being parents, it was the hardest but best thing we have ever decided to do. Me and Rich are both in the best moods, probably due to knowing what is about to happen today, as it feels like a massive weight has been lifted and we can finally relax into trying to be the best Dads we can. Rich comes over to give me what feels like the tenth hug of the morning and whispers in my ear, “we did it babe, today is the day”, sometimes he really is just the cutest and I know he is going to be really emotional today and I cannot wait to share it with him, I literally feel on cloud nine. Rich then snaps out of his mushy state quickly and returns back to organised panic by saying “Right, come on then, we need to get ready” which is hilarious for me, as he only really ever has to worry about dressing himself, as I am the one who does the important bits but I just let him think he does all the important stuff. I am in total agreement and dish out the orders of what needs to be done and what needs to be packed in the car, as I am secretly having a mini meltdown over the worry of turning up to the court and forgetting to pack one of the essential items like nappies or wet wipes, so there will be at least ten bag checks before we go anywhere.
We are all ready and the boy looks so smart, another hundred photos taken and we are ready to leave, the timings have worked out perfectly so far but I just know there is going to be traffic or something to put a spanner in the works. Either way though, then boy should have a lovely little nap on the way and wake up raring to go when we get there. Knowing that everything is packed and we aren’t missing anything, I tell Rich to do his final check, which I know will be fine but again it makes him feel like he has sorted it all. Again, Rich has a soppy moment and picks up Nutter for a little cuddle together with the boy, telling him in that voice you use when talking to dogs, that we are going to get his little bothers name changed and will be home soon. If dogs were allowed in the court, we would have definitely brought him along with us, as he is very much a part of our family and after all was our firth born. Now, all in the car and Rich calls his Dad to confirm that we are about to leave and that the mission of all meeting now commences and we set off. The boy all secure in the back with his dummy in and his comfort blanket in hand, looking like he is struggling to stay awake already. We arrive at the meeting point and both mine and Rich’s parents are waiting for us with the biggest of smiles and we both laugh to each other, having one of those car conversations just between us with everyone else waving looking all excited as we laugh saying “look at them all waiting, bet they’ve been here since last night”. It is so lovely to know that we have had all the support we could have possibly asked for from our parents, during this adoption process. We all set off together and within seconds I hear a little cute snoring sound coming from the backseat, as the boy has already fallen asleep in his usual car sleeping position, with his back and mouth open wide with the dummy hanging out, so I sneakily catch a photo of this, thinking to myself that it could be a cute photo for his eighteenth birthday party when he grows up.
We have arrived at the car park and all get out to say our hellos with hugs and kisses all round, which has become the tradition when everyone gets together, which is lovely as our two families do get on so well. Everyone has made a real effort and looking lovely for the boy’s special day, but he is of course still sound asleep in the car seat. The boy doesn’t transfer well, so I attempt to move him from his car seat to his buggy, which doesn’t go well and he wakes up straight away. Luckily, as soon as he sees everyone, he is wide awake smiling with everyone making a fuss of him. We walk round to the court and all sign in and wait to find out where we need to go, before being ushered round to the waiting area where we meet Gemma who was also looking lovely, who explains we will be invited in to meet the judge and that they have also agreed for us and the boy to have a chat in her chambers. I have never been in a court before and have only ever seen them on television, so walking in was slightly nerve wrecking. I want to shout out a few ‘Legally Blonde’ quotes, but there is a time and place and this was not a good one, thinking the judge may just rethink this whole situation. We settled in and the judge appeared to welcome us all to our special day, which was all very formal with the ‘all rise’ moment. She was just so lovely and explained that this was one of the best parts of her job, being able to see a process all the way through to the end of an eighteen-month process, with beaming smiles all around the boy. She then invited me, Rich and the boy up to her seat to have some pictures taken and presented the boy with a teddy bear. We posed for our families who are taking pictures like the paparazzi and the judge is actually laughing at them all, but saying “marvellous, such a lovely family you have now” a few times. The boy was only interested in her microphone and all the stationary on her desk, as realistically this was just a normal day out for him but with some extra special toys to play with. The judge then invited us to join her in her Chambers, where she signed the certificate in front of us and handed it over with a loving smile. Expecting then to be ushered out quickly, she surprised us by pulling a plate out with a few cupcakes and offered them to us and the boy. He obviously wanted one as soon as he laid eyes on it and she jokingly commented, a little bit if sugar will be fine. We then thanked the Judge for all she had done and was taken back out of the Chambers, with me holding the certificate like it was the crown jewels.
On getting back to the reception area, it was time to say thank you properly to both Gemma and Dawn, so Rich’s Dad then handed over the flowers to which they both seemed really happy to receive. I mean this wasn’t just a thank you from us, as we wrote the cards as if they were from the boy, saying “thank you for always looking out for me and for finding me my Daddies” with a more personal card written from us to them, which we didn’t want to open and read in front of us as it was personal to them. It will be weird not to see them anymore, especially Gemma who feels like our friend and not our social worker, but we say our goodbyes with hugs all round and as we go to walk off, Gemma says “I will see you soon for the next one”. We all make our way from the court back to the cars to drive to the restaurant we have booked for lunch, feeling a massive sense of relief and like we have this new magical feeling inside. The car journey is amazing with me and Rich being very loved up at the fact we are legally Daddies, of course the boy has been ours from day one and the naming ceremony is just a piece of paper, compared to how we feel but we are enjoying this moment. The restaurant is in a lovely little village that we used to drive to for dinner sometimes, so it holds a special memory for us and thinking this will be where we can all come as a family from now on is lovely. The boy is getting hungry and a little moany, so this quickly brings us back down to earth but to be fair to him he has no idea what today is all about, he is a one year old who only needs to really worry about food and drink. We go into the restaurant and are seated quickly, with the boy handed a packet of his favourite carrot stick crisps, which he shoves straight into his mouth. The lunch is lovely and we are all talking about the future, the fun we have already had and the new memories that we hope to all make together. The boy today has also sort of tied the families together officially, so everyone was really just having the loveliest time chatting away. The big question then comes up from my Mum, ‘will you adopt again or is one enough?’ which I answer with “we just want to give the boy an amazing life, but we cannot adopt again for at least two years unless a sibling comes along, so only time will tell”. Knowing that realistically we haven’t even given a second child a thought at the moment, I just wanted to clear up the fact that we have to wait at least two years, so there is no pressure, as we don’t know yet whether we can do well with one child let alone two. We just feel so very lucky today and as much as the last eighteen months have been a rollercoaster of emotions, the end result is our Son and we would do it all over again if it meant we could be Daddies to this lovely boy.
Everyone enjoyed their lunch and then out comes the insanely big blue cake my Mum has ordered with the boy’s full legal name written on the icing and a big teddy bear on top. The naming ceremony date will be like an extra birthday for him from now on and a day we will always celebrate, so he will know much adopting him means. Photos taken and the boy attempts to blow out the candle which is like a mini firework, so we help him and we all cheers and give him a kiss. He still has no idea what is going on but he enjoys all of the attention, but hopefully in years to come, he will be able to look back at all of this and know just how much we all love him. We decide to make a move and we are just going to head home to spend the rest of the day as a family and think about all the occasions we have coming up, as we now get to fully plan anything we choose to do. For now, we are just unconditionally happy and whatever happens in the future with his questions or feelings towards his adoption, we know we have his back and will always tell him how much we love and wanted him. I’m sure there will be some bumps along the road and we are totally ready to take on these challenges, but as a team we will get through it and come out just as happy as we feel today. The boy hasn’t had the best start in life, so now our main goal is to make it as fun and magical as possible, filling him with all the love that he deserves and help him grow up understanding his own story, while being able to now paint his own.
The car journey home felt different today, like it was all meant to be and on some level the boy was destined to be ours, as we just cannot imagine our lives without him. As we pull onto our drive and park, Rich puts his hand on the back on my neck and just says “he’s ours now forever, I love you”.